A recent edition of Science Magazine published a thought-provoling piece on our education system called “It’s the Teachers.” (subscription required) Written by John E. Burris, president of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, this editorial contributes to the ongoing conversation on international education trends. Considering the results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, Burris looks to Finland for the distinguishing characteristics that account for its success:
So why exactly is Finland so special? One answer may be Finland’s emphasis on high-quality teachers and high standards. Burris writes, “As Finland has shown, the answer to the problem that beleaguers many nations is a straightforward commitment to both value and trust the most important part of any successful educational system—the teacher.” For example, only 1 in 10 applicants are accepted into teacher training programs in Finland; furthermore, teachers must have advanced degrees to be considered for the teaching profession. In the U.S, by contrast, Burris argues that teacher training leaves much to be desired, educators often teach to standardized assessments, and teachers often find a pervasive lack of respect given to their chosen profession.
And Burris goes on to argue for a host of critical reforms to help improve our educational performance.
Read the whole thing.